Not every computer user knows what is computer imaging, and this is because while the process is essential, it can be described by several other terms apart from PC imaging.
For instance, many may refer to it as PC formatting, but this does not describe the entire process and hence doesn’t do it enough justice.
Inarguably, computers have become a very intricate part of what makes businesses and companies function today, with no serious modern brand able to achieve much without a couple of these pieces of technology.
But, using several computers is one thing, and using multiple computers that operate under the same privileges is another.
Because we are talking about organizations here, computers used there have to be synced to work using essential functions or cleaned from time to time before they are released,
Computer imaging is used for both old and new computers and allows companies to have a standardized workstation image or format.
Today, we will understand what is computer imaging, how it works, and its benefits to any business and its departments.
What is Computer Imaging?
Computer imaging can be defined as replicating both the software and hardware information of a computer and capturing all that data on a hard drive. This is to make it easy to replicate the configuration on another device.
When an individual does it, computer imaging allows you to replicate the information on a computer before thoroughly cleaning it to release it or install a new working configuration.
In this way, computer imaging makes it impossible to lose the information on a computer even if you need to clean it for any reason. And there are multiple reasons why you might want to clean a device; this could be because it got corrupted or set up a different configuration.
On the other hand, businesses and enterprises use computer imaging for a broader purpose. Here, we can define computer imaging as the process of formatting computers to allow them to operate on a similar system with the same security privileges, programs, and even functionality.
For them, it allows all the computers with the company or within different departments to work with the same configurations.
Using the default operating system of a device does not exactly do much for a business, and the only way to get complete control, determine how all the computers in the company work, and synchronize all devices to the same functionality and privileges is to perform computer imaging.
And once the answer to what is computer imaging has been provided, the next question should be how is it done?
Below are seven steps to performing computer imaging from start to finish:
Step 1: Get New Devices
Computer imaging has to be done on new computers. This could be an old computer that has been wiped entirely or a new one you had just recently purchased.
Either way, the devices need to be fresh for the imaging to work without errors. Running computer imaging on a device that has just recently been imaged without first cleaning it can result in mistakes while making it almost impossible to catch and record changes.
Step 2: Know Your End Users
Once you have gotten new devices, the next step is to understand who the end-users are and what purpose the computers will serve, first within the company and second within each department.
Understanding the general uses in the company will help you decide what type of Master imaging to use. Understanding how separate teams and departments will be using the computers will allow you to determine the relevant security privileges, programs, functionalities, and permissions to include the different departments.
For instance, the marketing department will have different needs from the IT team. These various needs must be captured and included in the different Master PC images if you have one.
Step 3: Check Computer Compatibility
Once you have accurately determined who is using what and for what purposes, the next step is to determine what type of configuration mechanisms the computers will be compatible with.
This is very important as we do not want to install programs and configurations that completely obliterate the devices.
Confirm the PC type, Operating System (OS), the hard drive’s capacity, RAM size, Video, and Graphics processing capacities, and see what software they are most compatible with before performing the imaging.
Step 4: Start the Master image.
After you have performed all the necessary checks and balances, the next thing is to create a Master imaging program that will run on all the computers.
You can always delegate this task to IT professionals from an outsourcing firm or use your IT team if you think your company has what it takes to do it.
But, we must mention that the task is not just crucial but can also be gruesome. So you want to use experts who are very vast in computer imaging.
The experts will first determine the best program for your company and then patch the OS to ensure that everything is updated. Next, installation of the suitable applications and programs will begin before the configurations of permissions, functionalities, and privileges are done last.
Step 5: Always Maintain Drivers
Once the installation and other necessary configurations have been done, all the computers will begin to run under the same cloud with slight changes in each team and department.
But the work is not done. You will need to maintain drivers to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Step 6: Optimized the Master image
Even after the imaging has been carried out and the computers are working correctly, you must regularly optimize or audit the Master imaging program. This helps to ensure that all the configurations are current and up to date.
You can schedule to do this auditing once every month for better results. It also ensures that only a minimal number of overall system updates and configuration changes will be necessary for the long run.
Step 7: Always Record Changes
The final step to computer imaging is documenting every change, update, audit, optimization, or process.
Keeping a record of what goes on makes it easier to maintain a computer image while also making it less complicated to fix any issues in the future.
This documentation can also provide a necessary framework for future computer imaging and simplify the entire process for any device that will be purchased later.
What Is The Purpose of Imaging A Computer?
Now that we have answered the question of what is computer imaging let us look at what the purpose of imaging a computer is.
Computer imaging is done to clean a computer before it is allocated to a new user or allow a group of computers to function under the same operating system.
You could do computer imaging to capture all the software and data before releasing it to another user, who will then install a new configuration.
A business can perform the same process to provide a standardized workstation in the company and have all the teams and departments have the same privileges, permissions, and functionalities.
Which is Better Cloning vs. Imaging?
In trying to understand what is computer imaging, it is also widespread to come across similar concepts that mean the same thing.
For instance, some computer users often come across computer or disk cloning and are advised to do this instead of computer imaging.
Which could lead to the question, which is better between computer cloning and computer imaging?
Computer imaging is often more efficient than similar processes, including computer cloning, even though they both work towards the same objective.
PC imaging is much more flexible, creates a much more compressed version of your data, and can be deployed faster than PC cloning.
Advantages of Imaging
Using a PC imaging program can bring several benefits to an organization. Still, most notably, there are two advantages to running imaging rather than other types of system formatting and configurations.
To Improve Security
Using computers with all the pre-installed software may cause some challenges for a company. For instance, the pre-installed software often comes loaded with several security vulnerabilities and is more accessible for hackers to target and attack.
To best way to prevent this is to perform imaging and change the configurations and software from what the computers came with to something designed by experts.
Additionally, enabling the same functionalities and security privileges for all the computers within a company makes it easier to stay safe. First, the systems are safer and harder to be targeted by hackers. Still, even when one computer is attacked, it is easier to detect the problem and recommend a fix since you control the computing environment.
Reducing IT Cost
Aside from eliminating security challenges, imaging can also help reduce your IT budget drastically. For instance, companies without a standardized workstation usually spend a lot fixing breaches and handling disasters.
However, because you have a working configuration for all your PCs, handling problems becomes more accessible and cheaper.
What Is Imaging Software?
A computer imaging software is an essential tool for automating the PC imaging and deployment process.
It is becoming increasingly important as more companies are now using it to simplify these tasks for their IT experts and administrators.
Generally, computer imaging is a tedious and time-consuming process that requires a lot of dedication. This then makes it easily prone to errors and mistakes. But with imaging software, the process can be automated to save both time and energy.
Imaging software also prevents errors or mistakes or reduces these to the minimum at the very least. It makes it much more efficient to capture data from different computers, customize a Master image, and deploy that image to all the systems’ computers.
We have answered the question of what is computer imaging by providing a detailed explanation and describing why it is done.
We have also considered some of its advantages and how imaging software can eliminate most of the stress associated with the process.
If you need to format or configure a computer or a group of computers, it is better to use imaging rather than other processes like cloning. If the task is too much for you and your team to handle, you can always outsource it.